Red Cross OKs MDA

BY KEREN DOUEK, ASSISTANT EDITOR

The American Red Cross announced the membership of Magen David Adom and the Palestine Red Crescent Society into the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement this week.

Kathy Lass, director of international services for the American Red Cross St. Louis Area Chapter, said the development has been “a long time coming.”

“We are very excited because this is something we have been pushing and pushing toward for the last 50 years,” Lass said.

The American Red Cross has been attempting to get MDA recognized as Israel’s equivalent to the Red Cross since Israel gained Statehood in 1948. Magen David Adom had been denied access, however, because of its use of the Red Star of David, which is not explicitly referenced in the Geneva Conventions.

When Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, American Red Cross national chairman for the board of governors and former U.S. ambassador to Finland, visited St. Louis in March, she emphasized her commitment to gaining MDA inclusion.

“The fact that they have not been included, we think, does not follow the overriding principles of universality of the International Red Cross,” McElveen-Hunter told the Jewish Light.

McElveen-Hunter said the issue is one that is “very near and dear to our heart, and one that we have for the last 48 years been diligent in working for, to bring an end to discrimination of Israel and its inclusion in the International Federation.”

The American Red Cross withheld $45 million in dues since May 2000 to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in protest.

The announcement comes after a December 2005 Diplomatic Conference adopted the Third Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, enabling MDA to continue to use the Red Shield of David when operating in Israel and use the Red Shield of David inside the newly adopted Red Crystal when operating outside of Israel.

Lass said MDA’s inclusion “is really something to celebrate for the entire movement, as well as the American Red Cross and the MDA. They have been wanting to be a part of the American Red Cross for a long time as well.”

Keren Douek is assistant editor and can be reached at [email protected]

Sign up for Your Morning Light